Has it really been a year since Lana Del Rey captured the attention of taste-makers all over the Internet with her viral tunes and self-directed music videos? Just as quickly as Del Rey rose to fame, the pervasive fascination with her entrancing, dolorous sound and her film noir-inspired aesthetic quickly gave way to disputes about the authenticity of her rags-to-riches tale — and of her lips, as if plastic surgery is unheard of in the entertainment industry. Regardless of whether you are put off by the controversy surrounding Del Rey’s marketing tactics or remain enthralled by her sultry croon, the singer has returned to the spotlight with her latest eight-track EP Paradise. The new release shows Del Rey offering powerfully poignant messages similar to her debut album — emotive lyrics about heartache laced with Americana. Her idiosyncratic style is perhaps epitomized by the opening track “Ride,” a sweeping ballad strangely redolent of a Western film and powered by her signature smoky vocals and backed by cinematic strings. Singing about escapism by evoking the open roads of America, Del Rey builds the song to a powerful climax and reveals her vulnerable side: “I’m tired of feeling like I’m f–-ing crazy / I’m tired of driving ‘til I see stars in my eyes / I look up to hear myself saying, / Baby, too much I strive.” Wild, untamed and exposed, “Ride” displays Del Rey at her best. In “Body Electric,” Lana continues along the same track of concealing emotional pain, opting instead to adopt veneers of opulence, youth and sexual pleasure. When she’s not singing about heartache and pain, Del Rey conjures up images of youthful, fast love. In “American,” she declares her feverish passion in the refrain, “You make me crazy, you make me wild” while also shedding light on what she feels embodies the American dream: “Be young, be dope, be proud / Like an American.” This catchy track with its upbeat tempo manages to capture the thematic core of Del Rey’s aesthetic, with its American flavor, the heady rush of youth, love and beauty and an undying commitment to upholding the sound of a bygone age. In alignment with her old-school inclinations, Del Rey covers The Clover’s “Blue Velvet” and provides an earnest and soulful rendition of the 1954 classic. Reminiscing about a lover lost (“Precious and warm a memory through the years”), this song perhaps signifies Del Rey’s regret at the passing of an era dominated by the likes of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe, both of whom she acknowledges as parents in “Body Electric.” As Del Rey woefully sings in “Gods and Monsters,” life imitates art. In this eight-track EP, Del Ray brings her strengths into clear focus and shows her ability to remain razor sharp — if not in freshness and versatility, then at the very least conceptually and aesthetically, making Paradise a coherent and laudable endeavour.